On his new release Community Aspire, Bay City musician Scott Baker embarks upon an entirely new dimension and musical plateau by crafting together a dynamic & varied selection of ten songs with a sharp focus upon songwriting & vocal harmony that marks a distinct departure for the award-winning founder of such R&B groups as Muddy Gumbo and The Universal Expressions.
Also enlisting vital guest contributions by such regional talents as Mike Robertson, Andy Reed, Larry McCray, John Krogman, Shar Molina, Michael Brush, Adam Levy (ex-Norah Jones), Kimberly Megoran and more. Musically, the bulk of this spirited release is performed by Baker on guitars, bass, vocals, and bells, Tim Scott on drums & bells, Bianca Henika on keyboards, baritone Uke & backing vocals, Jon Potrykus on steel guitar, and both Bruce Rupp and Bob Hausler on keys. Baker is also planning a CD Release Party for Community Aspire on New Year’s Eve at The Governor’s Quarters in Bay City that is free & open to the public.
The genesis for Community Aspire started approximately two years ago when Scott started thinking about how to approach making his next record. “I didn’t have the Universal Expressions’ anymore because everybody went their own way and I was doing a lot of acoustic shows,” he explains. “But the first thing I wanted to dig into this time around was utilizing more vocal harmonies, because I’ve never focused on that before all these years since the days of Muddy Gumbo.”
Consequently, Scott decided to set this album based around the idea of writing duets or having a female vocalist handling background harmonies. “The main female vocalists featured on this release are Shar Molina from The Banana Convention and Kimberly Megoran, notes Scott. “Both are good friends of mine, but I must say that Bianca Henika who is playing keyboards in my current Live band right now filled up the rest of the tracks and has a phenomenal voice.”
This process of writing his new material in terms of what would go well with another voice, as opposed to writing a straight-up rock or acoustic song, caused Scott to shape the material musical constructions would work best with catchy words and strong choruses. “Andy Reed helped with the harmonies on my last two releases,” adds Scott, “so this time I wanted to get the females in there and then that idea expanding to enlisting the aid of some musical friends such as Larry McCray and Mike Robertson.”
Community Aspire was also recorded by Scott in his new home studio. “Andy helped me get my feet wet recording and building my own home studio over the last five years and I recorded and mixed everything myself,” he reflects. “Usually I record bands live, but I did this release piecemeal and found it gives me a different texture, plus they all turned out so good; but I did do the final mix with Andy.
For the New Year’s CD Release party at The Governor’s Quarters Scott has assembled a performing band that features Baker and Bob Macomb (formerly of Killshot) on second guitar, Matt deHeus on bass, Bianca on keys & vocals, and drummer Tim Scott.
When looking back over his recording career over the years, what does Scott feel most distinguishes this latest release; and how does he compaire it to the rest of his work?
“I believe this is a huge leap forward in terms of songwriting,” he reflects. “My other records were written around the bands that I was performing with, and now I’m focusing more on songs, which coupled with that whole idea of vocal orientation has inspired me to become a stronger songwriter. I’m not just doing Blues or Rock or Americana, but a little of everything. This is a strong 10-song package.”
Community Aspire is currently available on CD and on digital download by going to scottbaker.bandcamp.com and will eventually be available on Reverb Nation, Amazon and I-Tunes.
In addition to the New Year’s Eve performance, Scott will also be performing with his new band at the 10th Annual Acoustic & Folk Festival on January 28th at the new Tri-City Brewery. “I thought it would be great to roll this out with an electric show on New Year’s Eve and then an acoustic show at the end of January.”
Check out this link for a sample track: